In our last post, we referred you to the blog of Erik Bergman, who stated a crucial truth in an eloquent way:
Most early drafts are a writer’s half-blind exploration of what he or she wants to say but hasn’t yet hit upon.
In contrast, many writers believe that a first draft can and should be perfect. As a result, they frighten themselves and they procrastinate. When the deadline is terrifyingly near, they dash off an inadequate first draft. They lose twice: they suffer mental agony and they deliver a poor product.
If this sounds like you, don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all done it.
A quick and easy way out
Cheer up. Here’s what to do.
In your word processor, set up a standard document. Format it your favorite way, as to font, spacing, margins, header, footer, and so on. (If you already have such a document, make a copy of it.)
Name this document “Draft 0.” Then open it and type this (or your own version) at the head of the first page:
This is Draft 0. It’s only a half-blind exploration of what I want to say. It won’t be difficult; nobody’s going to see it but me. I’ll just get my thoughts down, rough and ready. Then I’ll start on Draft 1.
I’ve been starting with a Draft 0 for more than 25 years. Many professional writers use this technique. It works. I don’t know who first thought of it, but I salute him.
The Takeaway: Be kind to yourself. Call your first draft “Draft 0.” Figuratively close your eyes and blast through it. Then start on Draft 1.